With the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Education, Vibert Welch, distancing himself from the construction of a guard hut at his Georgetown residence, the barrel now points to the technical officers whom he said, were involved in the project implementation.
The PS, during a telephone conversation earlier this week, told Kaieteur News that the contractor would have submitted a proposal and the superintendent of works wrote the Deputy Permanent Secretary (DPS) and the Chief Works Officer “did their thing”.
Additionally, Welch said he knew nothing about price of materials and pointed to the Senior Works Officer, “the finance people” and engineers, labelling them as the persons who normally deal with these projects.
He came under heat earlier this week after it was revealed that $540,470 of taxpayers’ monies would have been expended to construct a guard hut at his Bent Street residence.
The hut has the approximate dimensions of five feet by five feet and eight feet high (5x5x8). The cost and the size of the hut have come under intense scrutiny by the public over the last few days with a strong buzz emanating from social media and elsewhere.
Additionally, the Ministry is renting a portable toilet for the security guard at a cost of $20,000 per month.
Documents have now made their way to the fore. They show that these technical officers – whom Welch said were responsible for the project’s implementation – would have accepted, what some describe as an inflated estimate, from the contractor, Linden Ogle.
The approved contractor’s estimate provided to Kaieteur News shows that $214,400 in lumber was billed to be used in the construction of the hut.
Further, the estimate included eight pounds of putty and six gallons of paint-related liquids inclusive of two gallons of oil primer; three gallons of white oil-based paint; and one gallon of “floor green” paint.
The cost to transport the materials was listed as $30,000 and labour cost at $180,000.
The estimate also included the provision of electrical works to be carried out on the guard hut.
The cost of materials for the electrical works amounted to $29,200. The approved estimate shows that a motion sensor light complete with bulbs valued at $21,000, was included in the estimate.
The labour cost to carry out the electrical works alone, was listed at $24,000 taking the total sum (including labour, materials and items) to $53,200.
This amount was included into the $540,470 that was approved by Welch who was required to do so because he is the accounting officer within the Ministry.
“I’m the head of the Budget agency and once the (technical officers) would have been certified and everything, I have to approve so that monies to be spent on any other thing be it a guard hut, be it a school, be it repairs to any other building. The Senior Superintendent has three quotations and based on what they presented to me for (my) signature, I signed.” Welch had told Kaieteur News this week.
His justification would have been endorsed by the PS of the Department of Public Service, Reginald Brotherson during a recent telephone interview.
Meanwhile, concerns have surfaced over other projects that come under the Ministry’s purview since many of these projects are handled by technical officers.
These projects include the construction and rehabilitation of schools, canteens and guard huts throughout the 10 administrative regions.
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